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Psion bid for big time wrecked by Motorola pullout

There goes the US bridgehead...

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The collapse of Psion's joint venture with Motorola is major bad news for the British company, but isn't likely to cause significant ripples for the cuckoo in the Psion nest, Symbian. Yesterday Psion shares nosedived as the company confessed that Motorola had canned the jv, and that consequently Psion's all-in-one PDA/mobile phone would be knocked back to 2002 - plucky little Psion's bid for the big time therefore seems to be toast, for the moment.

Motorola remains a shareholder in Symbian, but that's a quite different matter from the jv with Psion. This was intended to produce a Motorola product this year, ahead of other Symbian-based smartphones, and the Psion version was to ship in a similar timeframe. So the two companies would have stolen a march on the rest of the market, while Motorola's Symbian products would have made it to market a year ahead of the Palm-based equivalent it was (and still is) also working on.

From what Psion CEO David Levin was telling The Register last year, that last feature of the deal was way up towards the top of the priority list. Psion sees itself as strong in Europe, but on Motorola's home US turf Palm has the mind and market share. In Psion's view Motorola was therefore doing the Palm hardware because it had to, while by also going for Psion/Symbian it was going to give Psion far greater credibility in the States.

Well, so much for that one. By knifing the Psion project Motorola is voting for Palm (although it still allegedly has other Symbian projects planned for 2002), and Psion is back to the drawing board.

There's still a slew of Symbian kit in the works, and in all probability its purveyors - the Nokias, Intels and DoCoMos of this world) won't be entirely distressed by the discomfiture of Psion and Motorola. Far better, surely, to have the US phone titan out of the picture, and Psion weakened, leaving the jam for the rest of us. But round at Psion's it's obviously time for the bright idea for the next big gamble. ®

Related stories:
Nokia unveils first Symbian Crystal Communicator
Nokia, Psion, Intel demo next gen Symbian Quartz kit
Motorola takes wraps off 'Odin' Symbian PDA

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